It’s that time of year once again. EA are now ready to lift the lid on career mode and start letting people who have been lucky enough to go hands on release their findings into the wild. One of those people is Nicholas Van Hoorde, staple of FIFABlog.be, who played Career Mode recently when the producer tour made a stop in Paris. Here are his findings.
FIFA 12 Producer Tour Paris:
With the second producer tour, we get another piece of the FIFA 12 puzzle. The puzzle marked ‘Career Mode & Online Modes’. Unfortunately, EA decided not to talk about Online modes in Paris and focus solely on Career Mode. That’s because they want something new to talk about at Gamescom, which I can perfectly understand. And let’s be honest, Career Mode is the heart of the FIFA 12 single player experience, so it’s certainly ‘heavy’ enough to talk about for a few weeks as more and more details emerge.
First things first, if you’re expecting a whole new Career Mode interface, stop. The interface is more of an update and looks 90% the same as FIFA 11. That’s not a bad thing per se, because that 10% change has given it a really nice lift and it’s primarily the homepage that’s had some new touches. With top/latest transfer deals constantly on your right, you feel that the world around you is finally doing something. (Which David Rutter was going for) The ‘news’ around the world is more structured and more varied; the press now have an important role to play. Also, the e-mail system has got a new look and is much more efficient. As far as looks go, that’s about it. Player searching is still the same; contract negotiations didn’t look any different to me as well as all the other features that were present in FIFA 11.
But that’s only looks; we want some real game changers and there are a few. With the new Youth Academy system, EA SPORTS is finally back on the right track with FIFA 12. It’s a two-fold feature. Firstly, scouts are back and you can send them to different regions in the hope they’ll spot some talented youngsters. As David Rutter mentions in the interview, you’re scouts need to go to the same region a couple times to get accurate information. So the first time they get back, the information will be vague. It’s also dependent on how long you send them to a region for, sound familiar? That’s because it’s the exact same thing as in FIFA 08. However, you can now send up to three scouts instead of just one. It’s still on the low side for top clubs, but it’s a step forward I guess. I do fear that scouting will be pretty straightforward (like in FIFA 08), with really no skill involved. You don’t have my final word on this, but I wouldn’t expect groundbreaking things involving scouts.
What might be ground breaking are the Youth Squads. But again, I couldn’t really test it. I started a Career Mode with Chelsea and when I went to the Youth Squad, there were no players (probably because I didn’t get past the pre-season friendlies). Hopefully, Dave and Tom, can provide more information on this subject. But if it’s anything like the Youth Squads in Pro Evolution Soccer, I’m all up for it.
The second ‘big’ feature in Career Mode is ‘Transfer deadline day’. Which now is a whole game in itself with the day progressing hour by hour, giving you time to get that last deal in the bag. Alongside this, it was great to see you can now ‘stall’ a decision on whether to sign or reject a player. But players might lose interest if you stall for too long. It actually happened in my Chelsea game….
The Lukaku-Cole Story
I tried to sign Lukaku, but didn’t really look at Chelsea’s transfer budget, so I probably bid way too much. The day after my Lukaku bid, Real Madrid contacted me for Ashley Cole and they offered me 22 million dollars. I didn’t want to accept, but didn’t want to refuse either, so I decided to stall the transfer. The day after that, Anderlecht accepted my bid and let me talk to the beast that is Lukaku. After a day or two, he accepted my contract. But then I saw a problem. I’d really overbid, in fact I couldn’t afford Lukaku at all. So I decided to stall that deal as well. I went back to the transfer negotiations panel (that’s really well done, by the way) and reopened the Ashley Cole case and I accepted Real Madrid’s offer but sadly it was too late. In the press a big article with the headline: ‘Lukaku stays at Anderlecht’ appeared quoting the player, “I still feel I can progress at Anderlecht.” So the stalling tactic ruined this deal for me, and I lost Ashley Cole to Real Madrid… Great managing, right?
The transfer deadline day is heavily tied with the ‘player stories’, which Rutter made quite a big fuss around. Basically it’s the press understanding your decisions as a manager and judging them. He gave a Mark Van Bommel example, who had just come back from an injury. The press didn’t think he was ready to play, but Rutter played him anyway. Milan won the game 3-0 and the press posted an article about the excellent judgement at Rutter’s decision. See what the game did there? It tried, again, to give you the feeling that the world is turning. I don’t know how many situations the press ‘gets’, so it might get a little linear after a while but Rutter did talk about situations involving player happiness, injury, morale and retirement.
And then we go on to the little details. David Rutter said he had a list full of improvements in his pocket and he couldn’t remember all of them but I did notice a few. The season previews and the board’s objectives are a little more elaborate now with the commentators talking about these objectives in the beginning of the season. You can now save squads, so if you have a B-squad for cup matches, you can now instantly change your team. Swapping players in Team Management is also easier now with a new quick swap feature (triangle for PS3, Y for 360). Also, you can now substitute more than 3 players in friendlies. Not career mode related but Rutter announced that Live Season will be entirely free this year. EA Sports Football Clubs is not limited to ‘Live Season’ teams. You can pick every team that is available in FIFA which sounds great.
So, that’s Career Mode. I was a bit disappointed that manager mode didn’t get a complete overhaul. But I came to realize that if you get rid of the bugs from FIFA 11 and add the new features, you’ll have a pretty cool mode. But that’s something you can only tell after playing a couple seasons. Player progression is supposedly fixed, but I can’t neither confirm nor deny that of course. Have to mention that the game isn’t finished yet, but don’t expect new ‘big’ features coming in. Some nice little tweaks, maybe. Rutter mentioned that they’re investigating the possibility to arrange you own friendlies, so that proves that there’s still some room left for alterations.
Nicolas Van Hoorde